Take Two for March 22, 2013

Tackling Asian stereotypes in film and TV

Collage of Asian stereotypes in pop culture

Examples of Asian-American stereotypes (clockwise from top-left): Gedde Watanabe as the perpetual foreigner Long Duk Dong, "Sixteen Candles"; Dragon Lady, "Terry and the Pirates"; Mickey Rooney as the Japanese neighbor Mr. Yunioshi, "Breakfast at Tiffany's"; Frieda Pinto as the Indian damsel-in-distress Latika in "Slumdog Millionaire"; and Christopher Lee as criminal mastermind Fu Manchu, "The Brides of Fu Manchu."

When you think of the most famous Asian characters in film and TV, what might jump to mind are characters like criminal mastermind Fu Manchuthe prostitute who says, "Me so horny," in Full Metal Jacket; or perpetual foreigner Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles.

Not to mention archetypes like the brainiac, or the kung fu master, or the dragon lady.

But these stereotypes that don't accurately reflect the 14.6 million Asian-Americans in this country.

This Saturday, these images are getting tossed out of the rickshaw they rode in on: the first summit on Asian-American stereotypes takes place at the Japanese American National Museum in LA.

It's called "Beyond the Bad and the Ugly." Jeff Yang is the organizer and writer of the Tao Jones column at the Wall Street Journal.

"We’re not saying erase all negative references," Yang says, "but there are plenty of places where you can play into race and make them human rather than just a two-dimensional character. And they work really well."


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